The "iron law of prohibition” explains why the DEA is responsible for the fentanyl crisis

Originally published at: The "iron law of prohibition" explains why the DEA is responsible for the fentanyl crisis | Boing Boing


Prohibition is bad, mmkay?


The GOV/The They has known for over a 100 years that prohibitions do not work, but work great for the illegal drug trade. It’s job security for them…


more compact, more potent, easier to smuggle and more problematic, more dangerous

Also more accessible to distributors, because it’s a synthetic drug that can be manufactured anywhere with the right precursor chemicals. The DEA knows how to fulfill the first rule of any bureaucracy (self-preservation), albeit at an enormous cost in lives.


And the truly ridiculous part is that we now have solid numbers/data for programs that have been put in use in other countries showing how decriminalization, abolition of prohibition, etc… work, and work very well.

But… if you do that, you have to admit that a “war” on drugs is unwinnable, and that you need the budget for social support programs and medical care rather than jails, weapons, and all sorts of other cool combat equipment. Who wants to be the republican that explains that rather than fighting the “bad guys” and putting them in jail, that they’re going to spend taxpayer money to help and support people with addiction issues?


Wikipedia has a list of those “iron laws”

Many of them are ripe for deconstruction. The most well known of these is, in my estimation, the iron law of oligarchy, which "asserts that rule by an elite, or oligarchy is inevitable as an “iron law” within any democratic organization as part of the “tactical and technical necessities” of organization.

This cynic “migrated to Italy and joined Mussolini’s National Fascist Party as he believed this was the next legitimate step of modern societies.”

So in casting his observations as a “iron law”, is Robert Cowan merely being cynical, or is he hoping for new power structures based on addictive substances-- e.g. Outland’s polydichloric euthimal?



It’s an unfortunate construction at best for Sanho Tree to refer to people involved in sex work as goods.

Additionally- it’s not as simple as a blanket statement that prohibition doesn’t work. It certainly worked for nerve gas attacks by individuals- it certainly worked for assault weapons when we had a ban - it worked for ozone and DDT - it’s less effective for drug use.


Portugal, Portugal, Portugal: “The law (Drug Law 30/2000) maintained the status of illegality for using or possessing any drug for personal use without authorization. However, for persons addicted to said drug, their case was now deemed an administrative offence.(Drug policy of Portugal - Wikipedia) The authority to impose penalties or sanctions in these cases was transferred from the police and justice system to so-called dissuasion commissions if the amount possessed was no more than a ten-day supply of that substance.”

They’ve had success with this strategy for over 20 years. Too bad we refuse to learn from their example.


What is the DEA for? What role does it fill that the FBI and state police forces don’t or can’t?
In a related question, why does a democracy like the United States need an agency called Homeland Security?


I loved how The Wire’s season 3 (Hamsterdam) showed how utterly unprepared so many places are to have a grown-up conversation about drugs.


Oddly enough, Homeland Security and the DEA were initially justified using the same rationale: consolidation of cross departmental bureaucracies.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon declared “an all-out global war on the drug menace” and sent Reorganization Plan No. 2 to Congress. “Right now,” he pointed out, “the federal government is fighting the war on drug abuse under a distinct handicap, for its efforts are those of a loosely confederated alliance facing a re­ sourceful, elusive, worldwide enemy. Certainly, the cold-blooded underworld networks that funnel narcotics from suppliers all over the world are no respecters of the bureaucratic dividing lines that now complicate our anti-drug efforts.

From a propaganda document that begins

The long, proud, and honorable tradition of federal drug law enforcement began in 1915 with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.



Lots of countries have a ban on heroin without the same fentanyl problem the US has. It’s also legal on prescription all around the world.

What they don’t have is private health insurance covering it.

If I was prescribed opioids they would be free to me But they are rarely prescribed.


I’ve been making this exact point for going on ten years now. Very happy to see it being pushed out to the public consciousness

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Well, it’s not Fentanyl in Russia, for example, it’s krokodil

Prohibitions can ‘work’ when possible, reasonable, and impartially enforced. Lack any of those, and pfffftt!

When the harm is directed more outwardly, perhaps they work more effectively. Like with DDT and assault weapons ban. When you’re harming yourself - not so much. And maybe there’s less of a moral imperative or public policy concern then.


In short, Portugal, the Netherlands and probably a few more treat drug abuse as a medical issue over a criminal issue.

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And Oregon:


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